Vietnamese Grilled Lemongrass Pork Chops (Sườn Nướng) are the heart and soul of the popular Vietnamese dish Cơm Tấm (Broken Rice plate).
Recently, Cơm Tấm has been recently recognized by TasteAtlas, an international food magazine, as one of the top 100 most beloved rice dishes across Asia. It’s a must-try dish when traveling to Saigon, Vietnam.
Inspired by a Saigonese lunch lady, this Sườn Nướng recipe brings back my memories of delightful Cơm Tấm breakfasts from her food stall. With simple ingredients, it’s perfect for a special weekend meal to treat your beloved family.
The secret tip I picked up from this amazing lunch lady will guide you to whip up the most flavorful, authentic lemongrass pork chops, just like those in Saigon 😉.
🌟 Tips from the Saigon lunch lady (and me)
Here are some tips I learned from the lunch lady who has been cooking and selling Cơm Tấm for almost 30 years in Saigon. I’ll break them down into parts in this post.
Plus, I’ve got a personal tip for you on cooking those delicious grilled pork chops at home—whether it’s with your air fryer, oven, or even a good pan.
- Best cuts for “Sườn Nướng”?
- How to prepare the pork chops
- Secret ingredients for the marinade
- Four ways to cook the pork chops: pan / charcoal grill / oven / air fryer
🥩 Best Cuts For “Sườn Nướng”?
In Vietnam, “Sườn Nướng” doesn’t only refer to grilled pork chops; it can also include spare ribs or even pork shoulder (if you check the phrase “Sườn nướng” on Google Images).
So feel free to substitute pork chops with spare ribs or pork shoulder in this recipe.
Choose pork chops with some fatty parts and ensure they are not too thick (around 1 cm or 0.4 inches).
🌟 Preparing The Pork Chops
A tip I learnt from the lunch lady in Saigon is snipping the edges of the pork chops. Make about 3-5 cuts per chop, 1 inch (2.5cm) deep each. It helps the pork chops remain flat while grilling or pan-frying.
Besides, don’t forget to pound the pork chops. This step helps the chops absorb the marinade more effectively and results in a tenderer texture when cooked.
🌟 Secret ingredients for the marinade
Some tips passed down by many street food vendors in Vietnam or Thailand for creating flavorful and succulent grilled meat include milk, coconut milk, honey, palm sugar, and brown sugar.
In Thailand, people often choose evaporated milk, coconut milk, and palm sugar.
In Vietnam, we love using full-cream milk, condensed milk, honey or brown sugar.
Feel free to get creative with the ingredients; for my recipe, I go for full-cream milk and honey, which are always available in my kitchen.
Fish sauce: Yes, most Vietnamese dishes can’t be complete without fish sauce.
Lemongrass: You can blend chopped lemongrass with some water to create a fine paste, ensuring you don’t encounter any uncomfortable clumps when enjoying the dish.
My tip is to use my Vietnamese lemongrass chili oil (sate sauce) . This sauce is super easy to make and very versatile in Vietnamese cooking. It can even add a vibrant color to the dish.
If you love the flavor of lemongrass, you could also try:
Vietnamese 5-spice: In Sườn nướng sả, this spice goes a little but a long way. Too much 5-spice could overpower the lemongrass flavor.
The fragrance of Vietnamese 5-spice is milder than that of Chinese 5-spice. It’s also a popular ingredient in Vietnamese cuisine , featured in dishes like:
Annatto oil helps create the alluring, vibrant color for the pork chops. Alternatively, you could skip this ingredient if you use the sate sauce (Vietnamese lemongrass chili oil).
To assemble a satisfying plate of “Cơm Sườn Nướng”, there are also:
🔥 Four Ways To Cook
When it comes to cooking the meat, you could choose your convenient method, and no matter which cooking method you choose, you’ll end up with a delicious meal.
Before cooking, let the pork chops rest at room temperature for 20 minutes.
In a small kitchen, pan-frying the pork chops is a convenient option. It’s my favorite method when living in an apartment with a small kitchen in Germany. Yet, it yields delightful results.
Heat a pan over medium-low heat. Pan-fry each side of the pork chop for about 3-4 minutes, adjusting the cooking time according to the thickness of the chops (approximately 0.4 inches or 1 cm).
Grilling meat over an open flame is the quintessential method for preparing BBQ in Vietnam. It’s not just about grilling pork chops for cơm tấm, but also for grilling pork used in bún chả, bún thịt nướng, or bánh mì.
The authentic street food vibe in Vietnam wouldn’t be complete without the alluring, mouthwatering fragrance wafting from char grills on the streets.
To grill the pork chops, heat your grill to medium-high heat. Place the pork chops on the grill and cook them for 5-6 minutes on each side. Cooking time can vary based on the thickness of your chops.
When cooking for a large family or preparing a large batch, oven-baking is convenient. To bake pork chops, first preheat the oven to 390°F (200°C).
After 20 minutes, place the marinated pork chops on a grill rack with the drip tray underneath. Cook the pork in oven for 7 minutes, then flip and cook for other 7 minutes.
An air fryer has become a must-have in every household these days due to its convenience. Preheat the air fryer to 350°F (180°C). Place the marinated pork chops in the air fryer basket and air fry them for 10 minutes.
Then, flip the pork chops, increase the temperature to 390°F (200°C), and cook the pork for an additional 5-7 minutes.
Explore other tasty Asian recipes with air fryer.
- Prepare the pork chops by snipping the edges and pounding them gently to tenderize.
- In a bowl, combine all the marinade ingredients and mix well to create a flavorful sauce.
- Place the pork chops in a bowl or sealable bag and pour the marinade over them. Ensure the chops are well coated. Let them marinate for at least 3 hours or overnight for the best flavor.
- Prior to cooking, allow the pork chops to rest at room temperature for about 20 minutes. This helps them cook more evenly.
- Cook the pork chops with your preferred methods.
- Serve them with steamed jasmine rice (check my easy recipe for microwaved jasmine rice), accompanied by Vietnamese scallion oil, Vietnamese dipping fish sauce, and Vietnamese pickled carrots and daikon.
If you’ve tried this recipe or any others from my blog, please share your creations with me on Instagram by tagging #savour_thepho or mentioning me in your stories with @savour_thepho . I would be thrilled to see what you’ve made and it would definitely brighten my day! Don’t forget to stay in touch with me on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube 🥰.
Best Vietnamese Grilled Lemongrass Pork Chops (Sườn Nướng)
- 1 mixing bowl
- 1 frying pan
- 1 Knife
- 0.8 lb pork chops (350g)
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 2 tbsp Vietnamese Sate Sauce (or 1 tbsp finely minced lemongrass + 2 tbsp annatto oil)
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1 tsp Vietnamese five-spice powder
- 4 tbsp full-cream milk
- Start by preparing the pork chops. Snip the edges and gently pound them to tenderize.
- In a bowl, combine all the marinade ingredients.
- Place the pork chops in a bowl or sealable bag and pour the marinade over them, making sure they are evenly coated. Let them marinate for at least 3 hours or overnight for the best flavor.
- Before cooking, let the pork chops rest at room temperature for about 20 minutes.
- Heat a pan over medium-high heat and add the pork chops. Pan-fry them for approximately 3-4 minutes on each side, adjusting the cooking time based on the thickness of the chops (around 0.4 inch or 1 cm).Or you can also cook the pork chops using a charcoal grill, air fryer, or oven (refer to the method section in my post).
- Once the pork chops are cooked to your desired doneness, remove them from the pan and let them rest for a few minutes before serving with steamed rice.